Thursday, December 17, 2015

North to the crabbing grounds!

After a night offshore we pulled into Marathon Wednesday afternoon to top up on fuel.  Due to a shallow stretch and warnings of many crab pots after you pass to the Gulf of Mexico side, we initially planned to anchor there and wait for daylight.  However, as we crossed under the bridge with 3 hours of daylight remaining and good visibility on the crab pot buoys, we decided to press on.  This would give us a bit of a leg up on the front coming in Friday and perhaps allow us to make Tampa.

To lessen the chance of grabbing a pot line around the prop, we set the genoa at sunset and ghosted along at ~3kts for the night. What the heck?  It was 30 miles we wouldn't get if we had anchored.  It went fairly well, though as I took the rev watch Frank reported we had slowed a bit.  About an hour into my watch I saw why--in the faint glow of the stern light I could see a line stretching behind the boat a few feet under the water.  Not trusting my eyes, I checked with the boat hook--we had a pot hooked on the rudder.  I pulled in the Genoa and tried to free it.  It seemed to work, but as I got speed on again I could tell it was still there.  I pulled in the Genoa again, this time Frank got up to see what was up.  This time I successfully scraped the boat hook down the length of the rudder while leaning off the swim platform and pop!  Up came the floats and they drifted away.  I reset the sail and got that missing knot of speed back!

As the sun rose we were only making 2.5kts good.  We doused the sail, took off all the speed, spun the boat around, checked all around for pots, lines, and buoys, and decided we were good to start the engine.  We backed for a bit just to make sure nothing was on the keel, then we were off!  If we make 7kts, we will be in Tampa ahead of the front!

Watches have been stressful, dodging line after line of pots.  If this keeps up we may have to sail after dark.  We still think we can meet our timeline if it comes to that.  As Frank turned the watch over to me he set a fishing line.  About 2 hours later I was enjoying the company of some dolphins.  I had just turned off the auto pilot to dodge more pots when the line took off.  No rest for the Skipper!  He pulled this little tunnie in on his hand line! Dinner!

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